Frank Lampard hails John Terry as 'greatest defender in Premier League history'
Frank Lampard paid tribute to the "greatest defender in Premier League history" following news that John Terry will leave Chelsea at the end of the season.
The 36-year-old will end a 22-year association with the Blues when his contract expires, having won 14 major honours at Stamford Bridge since making his first-team debut in 1998.
Most of that silverware was won alongside his "great friend" Lampard, who did not understate Terry's contribution to the club.
The former England midfielder said on his Instagram page: " The last man standing of an incredible era for @chelseafc.
"What a pleasure to play with the greatest defender in the @premierleague history. In fact, I'd put him up with any defender in world football of any era. He led the club both on and off the pitch from the moment he made his debut.
"He set standards for everyone, whether it was demanding excellence in training, fighting for every win or respecting how fortunate we were to play for such a great club.
"He was, and is, a legend, not just for his talent but just as much for his desire to get the best out of himself and others around him. That's what made him the most successful captain in the club's history.
"Off the pitch a great friend to not just me but so many at the club and outside of it. The countless things I've seen JT do to help people outside of the game, things that not many see, are what defines him as a man.
"@johnterry.26 you deserve every accolade you get over the next weeks and beyond and I hope you get what you deserve and lift two massive trophies at the end of the season (just to add to the tally).
"Whatever you do next I know everyone will respect your decision and I know that the Chels will always be your club. Absolute respect."
News of Terry's imminent exit from Stamford Bridge comes at a curious time, 24 hours after Chelsea were beaten 2-0 at Manchester United, a result which opens up the Premier League title race.
Terry's former England team-mate Gary Neville questioned the timing of the announcement and believes the 36-year-old still has a part to play this season.
"The news of Terry leaving is incredibly strange timing, I don't get it at all," Neville told Sky Sports' Monday Night Football.
"I'm not really sure who it suits, maybe John Terry a little bit, but I'm not even sure about that.
"It may be a distraction for the dressing room, the club and the fans will be sad today especially after the big game they lost yesterday. Maybe he's signed a pre-agreement with somebody and they couldn't keep it quiet any longer."
Neville added: "They haven't kept a clean sheet for quite a bit now and I think he could be quite useful for them.
"If they needed someone with experience in this last month to get them over the line, he might be the man they need to call on.
"He's got the experience, the resilience, the robustness and that toughness which would get his team-mates over line. He may be Chelsea's most important player in the next few weeks."